Construction managers work in a variety of roles to oversee all phases of residential and commercial construction. Sometimes referred to as general contractors or project managers, construction managers also work on industrial structures, roads and bridges, and major infrastructure projects such as schools or hospitals. The role of a construction manager is to prepare cost estimates and timetables, as well as to supervise contractors and laborers and work with engineers and architects. Many colleges offer associate or bachelor's degrees in construction management. A bachelor's degree takes longer to complete than an associate's degree, but qualifies graduates to work at higher levels and on larger projects.
An associate degree in construction management is typically a two-year program offered by a community college or technical school. These programs also can be taken part-time by students who have a full-time job. Upon graduation, students are eligible for positions in private construction companies as foremen or project managers. Graduates may also work for local and state government agencies as plan checkers or inspectors.
Associate Degree Courses
In addition to general education courses, an associate’s degree in construction management consists of 10-12 courses in different areas of construction management. These classes often include a combination of classroom and field experience. Students take classes such as fundamentals of accounting and construction estimating to learn how to do cost estimates. Other classes, such as construction safety and legal aspects of construction, help students learn how to manage a construction site to prevent accidents and legal liability.
With the increasing complexity of building projects, a bachelor’s degree in construction management is becoming more important to many employers. Bachelor’s degree programs are four-year programs that are generally offered by a university. A bachelor’s degree offers students an opportunity to take more specialized classes in different aspects of construction management, such as facilities management, residential construction or commercial construction. Graduates are able to work in managerial positions at large construction companies, manage complex construction projects or work in a supervisory role in a city or county building department.
Bachelor’s Degree Courses
While the specifics depend on the university, a bachelor’s degree program generally requires a total of 120 units of coursework consisting of general education requirements, prerequisites, major courses and electives. Examples of construction engineering courses include AutoCAD for construction managers, construction surveying and mapping, construction materials for managers, sustainability for construction managers and building energy systems. Students in a bachelor’s degree program are also required to take a number of courses in mathematics and physics as prerequisites for upper-division construction management classes.